BOSTON (State House News Service) – A Republican candidate for Senate riled his opponent and others on social media over the weekend by employing a term long used as a slur for gay men to demean one of Donald Trump’s interlocutors from more than two decades ago.
“DONALD TRUMP. Putting self-righteous faggots in their place since 1993. How I love this fellow,” Ted Busiek, a 30-year-old Littleton resident, posted to Twitter on Saturday.
The post linked to a short video clip of the real estate magnate, long before Trump’s successful bid for the Republican presidential nomination, parrying with Congress about federal tribal gaming policy.
“If you look at some of the reservations that you’ve approved . . . they don’t look like Indians to me. And they don’t look like Indians to Indians. And a lot of people are laughing at it,” Trump said in the remarks dated 1993, apparently shocking the congressman questioning him, who likened the remarks to historical racism. Trump said, “Only Indians can have the gaming . . . Why are you being discriminatory? Why is it that the Indians don’t pay tax, but everybody else does. I do.”
Busiek told the News Service he didn’t intend the term in a “hateful sense” or to imply that the congressman was gay, using the word instead to mean the congressman was “obnoxious” and was “kind of being a jerk.”
The full-time candidate who served four years in the U.S. Air Force said so-called “social justice warriors” would “probably have a heart attack” listening to him and his friends talk, though he said it would be “very unlikely” that he would use such terminology publicly if elected to the state Senate.
“It’s hard for me to get exercised over naughty words,” Busiek said. He said, “You can insult somebody without being hateful.”
Sen. Jamie Eldridge, an Acton Democrat set to face Busiek in November, said use of the term faggot in a derogatory sense furthers homophobia and he said his opponent should apologize and consider dropping out of the race.
“When a candidate for office uses such hateful rhetoric it’s important to stand up to it and not be silent,” Eldridge told the News Service. Eldridge said, “This is about the fact that in civil society you don’t use hateful rhetoric directed at anyone.”
Busiek said he has no “enmity” toward gay people and no interest in what goes on in private bedrooms. He opposes gay marriage and is “absolutely opposed” to adoptions by same-sex couples, Busiek said.
Gay marriage became law in Massachusetts by the 2003 Goodridge v. Department of Public Health high court decision, and became law throughout the nation through a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case. The Senate that Busiek hopes to join is led by Amherst Democrat Stan Rosenberg, the first openly gay Senate president in the state’s history.
While often the site of passionate debates, the Senate chamber is also marked by decorum among the members who regularly praise one another even in their disagreement.
Claiming a “cultural rift” exists between State House politicians and a sizable section of the Bay State’s population, Busiek told the News Service he spoke for “anybody who works for a living,” and those who find themselves “under attack” for their “oppressor status” as white, male and successful.
“I think there’s a great amount of jealousy involved,” Busiek said of so-called “social justice warriors,” who attack real and perceived racial and gender sleights.
Asked if he was a social justice warrior for successful white men, Busiek said, “That’s a good way to sort of turn it on its head.”
“Maybe I’m engaging in identity politics, too,” Busiek said, though he said he disagrees with that point of view because, he said, identity politics is contingent on being “born into a victim class.”
Eldridge said he was drafting a letter asking Massachusetts Republican State Committee Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes to disavow Busiek’s language. A spokesman for the state party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Terra Friedrichs, of Acton, has also filed papers to seek the Senate seat Eldridge holds as an independent candidate. A Facebook page set up for Friedrich’s candidacy posted about Busiek’s comments, writing, “I think he’s surprised that he hurt anyone’s feelings. He’s relatively young, folks…I hope we are forgiving, if he’s learning.”
The Littleton Republican said he had been thinking of running for office and was inspired by Trump, who rocketed past the Republican party establishment by letting loose insults, bombast and his promise to “Make America great again.”
Busiek said he was “disgusted with the people who are politicians,” and suggested both parties fail to represent the interests of his cohort.
“Most of us don’t feel we’re represented by the Republican Party,” said Busiek, who is the lone Republican who will appear on the Sept. 8 primary ballot, and said the party is generally in the business of “politely losing.”
Busiek said he joined the Air Force in 2009, worked as an Arabic translator, and was honorably discharged in 2013 after being stationed a number of places without serving any deployments.
Eldridge said Busiek’s remarks Saturday were part of a pattern, pointing to a tweet the candidate issued June 1 on the news that Gov. Charlie Baker said he would sign a version of legislation granting new anti-discrimination rights and access to transgender people.
“Don’t do it,” Busiek urged the governor on Twitter. “These perverts aren’t who got you elected, and pandering won’t make them your friends.”